Down by the Salley Gardens
About the Song
The lyrics are a poem by William Butler Yeats, which was first published in 1889 in his collection entitled The Wanderings of Oisin & Other Poems.
Yeats indicated in a note that it was "an attempt to reconstruct an old song from three lines imperfectly remembered by an old peasant woman in the village of Ballisdare, Sligo, who often sings them to herself."[The "old song" may have been the ballad "The Rambling Boys of Pleasure[" which contains the following verse:
- "Down by yon flowery garden my love and I we first did meet.
I took her in my arms and to her I gave kisses sweet
She bade me take life easy just as the leaves fall from the tree.
But I being young and foolish, with my darling did not agree."
- Sligo is in western Ireland.
- Yeats poem has been put to many musical settings. The most popular was composed in 1909 by Herbert Hughes using the tune to the traditional Irish air "Moorlough Shore" (aka "The Maid of Mourne Shore"). This is the tune we learned to the song and is the one for the chords included in Rise Up Singing.